Stressed about snagging a boarding group using the Disney World virtual queue system? We can help.
We’ve been in your shoes before, but we’re eager to share a few handy tips and insights we’ve learned after years of experience with Disney’s virtual queue system.
In this post, we’re going to first go over the basics of virtual queues – including how they work with all-day park hopping. Then, we’ll go step-by-step on how to join a virtual queue. We’ll also cover our best tips, plus give you some suggestions for alternatives to using the virtual queue system.
Understanding Virtual Queues
Picture it – you and your family are pumped about riding one of Disney’s hot new attractions for the very first time. You wake up early, rope drop the park, and walk straight there only to find that the wait is over 300 minutes and there is no way your kids (or you!) can stand in a line that long.
That is precisely what used to happen when new attractions opened up at Walt Disney World. Wait times would consistently extend into the hundreds of minutes, and the overall experience for guests was not good at all.
Yes, there are always going to be attractions – even older attractions – where the waits often push past 100 minutes (looking at you, Peter Pan’s Flight), but, having hundreds and hundreds of people in line isn’t good for anyone – including Disney.
In a perfect world, waits for even the most popular attractions at Disney World would never be more than 15 minutes long and there wouldn’t be any need for systems to keep us from standing in long lines.
But alas, that isn’t the case and although it isn’t perfect, the Disney World virtual queue system does make it a bit easier to enjoy some of the most popular new attractions without super long waits standing in line.
The virtual queue is FREE, but you’ll need to understand how it works to snag a spot:
- Reservation: The first step in the Disney virtual queue system is to snag a reservation – or in Disney’s terms, a boarding group. We’ll go over that in more detail down below, but you’ll use the My Disney Experience app to join the queue. It’s like saying, “Hey, I want to go on this ride,” but instead of going to the ride and waiting in a long line, you do it through your phone.
- Virtual Waiting: Once you’ve joined the queue, you’re given a spot in line – but it’s all virtual. You don’t have to stand in a long line; you can go do other things instead.
- Notification: The Disney virtual queue system keeps track of the line for you and lets you know when it’s your turn (aka when your boarding group is called) by sending you a push notification to your phone. You can also use the app to check to see the status, too.
- Your Turn: When it’s your turn, you head over to the attraction. In most cases, you’ll have a 1-hour return window.
- Enjoy the Ride: Once you arrive, you’ll join the Virtual Queue Line, where you won’t walk right on, but you’ll definitely have a shorter wait.
BUT – this is where it gets stressful because boarding group spots are not unlimited in the virtual queue – and once they are gone, they are gone.
And for the rides with a virtual queue, your only options will be to either pay extra for an Individual Lightning Lane OR ride it through the virtual queue. There is no standby option, meaning, you might miss out riding if you don’t understand how it all works.
Which attractions at Disney World use Virtual Queues?
Over the years, there have been several attractions that have used a virtual queue. But, at this time, there are only 2 rides at Walt Disney World using the virtual queue daily:
Note: In the past, both Rise of the Resistance and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure used a Virtual Queue daily, but as demand has dropped and other new attractions have opened, those attractions have stopped using the virtual queue.
When can I join a virtual queue (or what is a drop time)?
Disney opens up the virtual queue at set times throughout the day. Those are commonly referred to as “drop times.”
There are 2 (and sometimes 3) drop times for the virtual queues:
- 7 a.m.: Can join from anywhere (onsite or offsite – you don’t have to be in the park)
- 1 p.m.: Must be in either Magic Kingdom (if you want to join the TRON Virtual Queue) or Epcot (if you want to join the Guardians of the Galaxy Virtual Queue). Note: While Disney officially states guests must be INSIDE the park for the 1 p.m. drop, we’ve learned that as long as you’ve tapped into the park, you can try to join the virtual queue at 1 p.m. from anywhere.
- 6 p.m.: Only available to Deluxe Resort Guests, and only on nights when either Magic Kingdom or Epcot is hosting Extended Evening Theme Park Hours. More on how the 6 p.m. drop works.
Step-by-Step instructions for joining a virtual queue
Note: these screenshots below are from the TRON virtual queue, but the steps are the same for all attractions with a virtual queue.
1. Make sure everyone in your party has both valid theme park admission and, when applicable, a valid Park Pass Reservation. Note: Date-based tickets will not need a Park Pass Reservation starting January 9, however on select days, Annual Passes WILL continue to need a Park Pass reservation.
You can use the My Disney Experience app the night before to confirm that you have everything ready to go.
2. Decide on which drop(s) you plan to attempt to join the Virtual Queue
As we mentioned above, there are 2 and sometimes 3 drop times (for Deluxe Resort guests only) each day. Here are some things to think about:
- If you are only planning to try for the free virtual queue AND you are not planning to pay for an Individual Lightning Lane selection, you should definitely try at 7 a.m. so that you’ll still have the 1 p.m. drop as an option if you aren’t successful at the first one. Remember, you must tap into the park prior to 1 p.m. if you want to try to join the virtual queue at the 1 p.m. drop. (Disney officially states guests must be inside the park for the 1 p.m. drop, but we’ve learned that as long as you’ve tapped into the park, you can try to join the virtual queue at 1 p.m. from anywhere.)
2 people available to help book virtual queues in My Disney Experience:
- If you are traveling with more than 1 person who can help you book, and your plan is to try to snag a spot in the virtual queue AND purchase an Individual Lightning Lane spot (so you can ride 2 times), as long as you both have your own My Disney Experience accounts, and you are connected as “Friends and Family“, you can divide up the tasks and have one person do each thing right at 7 a.m.
1 person available to book virtual queues in My Disney Experience:
- If you are the only one attempting to snag the virtual queue AND you also want to purchase an Individual Lightning Lane spot (so you can ride twice), purchase the Individual Lightning Lane first (because they are generally easier to snag at 7 a.m. than the virtual queue spots are) and then try for a spot in the virtual queue at the 1 p.m. drop. You must tap into the park prior to 1 p.m. if you want to try to join the virtual queue at the 1 p.m. drop. (Disney officially states guests must be inside the park for the 1 p.m. drop, but we’ve learned that as long as you’ve tapped into the park, you can try to join the virtual queue at 1 p.m. from anywhere.)
Guests staying at a Deluxe-level resort
- If you are eligible for the 6 p.m. drop, you do not have to be in the park, but you will need to have valid admission to enter either Magic Kingdom or Epcot that evening. Also keep in mind that this drop is basically the chance to ride for a 3rd time in one day: you can ride once with a virtual queue spot during regular park hours, you can pay to ride once with an Individual Lightning Lane Selection, and then once during Evening Theme Park Hours. If you are successful at snagging all 3, you’d get 3 rides.
3. Confirm your party
Up to 1 hour before you can join the queue, confirm your party.
You don’t have to do this right at 1 hour before you can join the queue, but give yourself a few minutes before the queue opens to confirm your party.
To do that, open up the My Disney Experience app, select virtual queues, select the virtual queue you wish you join, and then select “Confirm Your Party”.
Make sure the correct people are selected (it should default to people in your group who are eligible).
A common snag is the app automatically selecting people without tickets (like kids under 3). Make sure that your party only consists of people who are eligible.
4. In the final minutes, get ready to go
We recommend having the My Disney Experience app open and ready to go a few minutes before the official time.
Boarding groups go fast (within seconds), so you don’t want to waste time clicking around and waiting for the app to open.
Use a second smart device to count down the seconds (like a smartwatch, a second phone, etc.). Don’t have a second smart device? Use the clock icon on your phone, which has a second hand.
5. Count it down…and GO!
Boarding groups will not be available until the official queue drop times.
Spots can be gone in a flash, so that means you’ll want to count down those last seconds so that you are refreshing right as the clock turns.
Immediately as the clock turns to either 7 a.m., 1 p.m., or 6 p.m (if available to you), hit the “Refresh” button and then push the “Join Virtual Queue” button.
The people you’re connected to in My Disney Experience who are eligible to join the virtual queue will automatically be selected when trying to get a boarding group (if you haven’t already confirmed your party as discussed in the previous step).
Your boarding group info should give you an estimated wait for how long it’ll take to be called (the time estimate is how many minutes from the current time they expect to call you).
This is important:
If you find that some members don’t want a boarding group, don’t take time deselecting their names, as that will likely cost you the chance to get boarding groups.
If you find that some people are missing, don’t waste time trying to add them.
Just go ahead and snag them for the ones that are selected, and then you can visit the Guest Services team (the ones near the blue umbrellas) to change it later.
6. Keep an eye on the app
The app should provide you with a push notification to let you know when it is your turn to ride.
Your boarding group info should give you an estimate for how long it’ll take to be called (the time estimate is how many minutes from the current time they expect to call you).
The app should alert you, but it is a good idea to keep an eye on the app yourself, too, just in case your notification doesn’t go through.
When you’re called, you’ll have 1 hour to make your way back to the attraction. You can always check to see exactly what groups are boarding both in the app as well as on display boards found throughout the park.
Note: We have personally been able to sometimes ride after our official return times at attractions with virtual queues, as well as knowing many others that were able to do the same. But you should never expect that to be the case, and you shouldn’t rely on Disney to allow it. Instead, whenever possible, we recommend you attempt to ride during your assigned time.
7. When it is your turn, enter the line
When it is time to ride, head to the attraction and go to the line labeled Virtual Queue.
Your tickets or MagicBands will be scanned before you enter the line.
Remember: Each guest can enter the virtual queue no more than once per day. Guests may not hold a boarding group for more than one experience at the same time. If more than one experience is using a virtual queue, guests will need to enter those virtual queues one at a time.
Virtual Queues and Park Hopping
With all-day park hopping back starting January 9, 2024, the way virtual queues work will change – but just a little bit.
Remember, you don’t need to be in a park to book a boarding group for the 7:00 a.m. drop. The parks aren’t even typically open at that time anyway.
But, you DO need to be in a park to book a boarding group for the 1:00 p.m. drop. That means you have to be in Magic Kingdom to book TRON or in Epcot to book Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. Note: While Disney officially states guests must be INSIDE the park for the 1 p.m. drop, we’ve learned that as long as you’ve tapped into the park, you can try to join the virtual queue at 1 p.m. from anywhere.
So if you plan to hop to ride an attraction with a virtual queue, just make sure you are in the park OR you have tapped into the park you are hopping to before 1:00 p.m.
Remember, guests can enter the virtual queue for each attraction no more than once per day during regular park hours, BUT eligible resort guests with access to Extended Evening Theme Park Hours who obtained a virtual queue spot during regular hours can try again at 6 p.m., when available.
Bonus 6 p.m. Virtual Queue for Deluxe Guests (Extended Evening Theme Park Hours)
There is also a third virtual queue drop time — but only for select Disney Resort hotel guests.
This bonus boarding group at the 6 p.m. drop, available ONLY to guests of Deluxe, Deluxe Villa, Swan, Dolphin, and Swan Reserve, and Shades of Green resorts, doesn’t count towards your daily attraction virtual queue limit.
Keep in mind that the 6 p.m. virtual queue time is only available on select nights when Extended Evening Theme Park Hours are offered at either Epcot or Magic Kingdom.
To experience Extended Evening Theme Park Hours, guests will need valid admission.
Important: guests who are eligible for the 6 p.m. drop time do not need to be in Magic Kingdom or Epcot to request to join the virtual queues there.
Alternatives to Virtual Queues
Unfortunately, there really aren’t any free alternatives to virtual queues. You can, however, opt to purchase a ride using the Lightning Lane.
Individual Lightning Lane Purchases
- What It Is: The Individual Lightning Lane is a paid service that allows you to book a specific time slot for select high-demand attractions. This is separate from the virtual queue system and from Genie+ and is available for a limited number of attractions.
- How It Works: You can purchase access to Lightning Lanes for up to two different attractions per day, per ticket. This is done through the My Disney Experience app. Once you’ve purchased your slot, you simply show up at the designated time and enjoy a much shorter wait.
- Advantages: The key benefit to a Lightning Lane vs. a boarding group in the virtual queue is certainty and convenience. You know exactly when your ride time is (you get to select the time), and you can plan your day around it.
Our BEST Virtual Queue Tips
- Be Prepared and On Time: The virtual queue opens at specific times (typically 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.). Make sure everything is ready at least a few minutes before the queue opens. We recommend you set an alarm – just make sure your alarm isn’t going to disturb other guests around you.
- Use a Clock to Countdown: Whether you use a watch or another phone, count down those final seconds and hit refresh as soon as it is time.
- Use a Reliable Internet Connection: A fast and stable internet connection is crucial. If you’re at a hotel or in the park, be aware that Disney’s free Wi-Fi may be slower due to many people using it at the same time. If you have a good cell connection, that may be your better bet.
- Update the My Disney Experience App: Make sure your app is updated to the latest version the night before. This can help prevent technical issues when trying to join the queue.
- Confirm Your Party in Advance: Starting an hour before the virtual queue opens, you can confirm your party in the app. Doing this beforehand saves valuable time when joining the queue.
- Multiple Devices and Accounts: Want both a spot in the virtual queue AND an Individual Lightning Lane? If possible, divide up the tasks and have one member of your group try to join the queue on their device while another books the Individual Lightning Lanes.
- Have All Park Tickets Linked and Ready: Make sure all the tickets or passes for your group are linked to your My Disney Experience account and that everyone has a park reservation for that day.
- Be Persistent: If you don’t succeed in the morning, try again during the 1:00 p.m. drop.
- Plan for Alternate Activities: In case you don’t get a boarding group, have a backup plan for other attractions or activities in the park.
Virtual Queue FAQs
How many virtual queues can you join at a time?
You can only have 1 attraction virtual queue at a time.
How much does a boarding group in a virtual queue cost?
It is free to join a boarding group. But, you can also pay to ride with an Individual Lightning Lane, which would give you 2 rides.
Can I choose my return time for my boarding group?
No. You can’t choose your boarding group number; it is assigned when you join the virtual queue, and you don’t know an exact return time because all that depends on how fast the groups in front of you move and whether or not the attraction itself goes down.
What happens if the boarding groups are gone?
There are a limited number of free boarding groups available, and once they are gone, they are gone.
At that point, your only option to ride will be to purchase an Individual Lightning Lane Selection.
Can I both buy an Individual Lightning Lane AND try for a spot in the virtual queue?
Yes you can! You can have both a boarding group in the virtual queue AND a return time for an Individual Lightning Lane.
For the 1:00 p.m. drop, does everyone who will ride need to enter the park first?
Yes. If you plan to try for a boarding group in the 1:00 p.m. virtual queue drop, everyone who plans to ride will need to have at least entered the park.
Which should I do first – the virtual queue or purchase an Individual Lightning Lane?
In nearly every case, whenever an attraction has both a virtual queue AND the option to purchase an Individual Lighting Lane, you should always join the virtual queue first and then buy your ILL.
Remember: you do NOT have to purchase Genie+ to buy an Individual Lightning Lane.
How does Rider Switch and DAS work with the virtual queue?
After you have a boarding group, you can see a Cast Member at the attraction for assistance.
Will any other attractions ever use a virtual queue?
Maybe. We expect to see the trend of virtual queues continuing whenever new things open. For example, Journey of Water – Inspired by Moana used a virtual queue for a few days after it first opened, too.
Does Disney use virtual queues anywhere else?
But, using virtual queues for other experiences will not impact your ability to get a boarding group for an attraction virtual queue. They are separate.
What about virtual queues and special events like Mickey’s-Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and Jollywood Nights?
Sometimes attractions are available during special events.
How to ride TRON during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
- A special 3rd virtual queue will open at 6:00 p.m. for all guests with a ticket to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The ticket must be linked to your account in My Disney Experience in order to request to join.
- Guests with MNSSHP or MVMCP tickets do NOT need to be in Magic Kingdom to request to join the queue.
- You can confirm your party before the queue opens.
- There will be no standby line or Individual Lightning Lanes available.
- Each guest can only request to join the virtual queue once per event.
How to ride Rise of the Resistance during Jollywood Nights
During Disney Jollywood Nights, Rise of the Resistance utilizes a virtual queue system similar to the one it opened with and the one that is currently in place for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and Tron Lightcycle / Run. There is not a Standby Line.
Here’s what you need to know:
- The drop time for the virtual queue during Jollywood Nights is 8:00 p.m.
- To join the virtual queue, guests will need to use their cell phones to log into the My Disney Experience app.
- At exactly 8:00 p.m., you are allowed to request to join the queue. You can only join the queue once, and your return time is set (you can’t change it).
- You also do not need to be inside the park to join, so if you are arriving late, you can still request to join as long as you have a valid party ticket linked to your account.
How do virtual queues fit in with Genie or Genie+?
Virtual Queues operate separately from Genie/Genie+. If you have a boarding group, you can view its status from the My Day tab in Genie.
So there you go! Everything you ever need to know about the virtual queues at Walt Disney World. Got questions? Leave us a comment below.
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